Questions tagged [time-signatures]

Numeric ratio indicating the subdivision of measures according to groups of beats.

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107 votes
6 answers
108k views

Is there any real-world difference between time signatures such as 4/4 and 8/8?

These days I pretty much play everything by ear, but was originally trained in strathspey and reel violin so realise I should know the answer to this, but I can't remember what, if any, the practical ...
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52 votes
11 answers
185k views

Does 3/4 time signature differ from 6/8?

I've always wondered how time signatures were thought of- I got the question because I noticed that well in terms of 'fractions', 3/4 is just half of 6/8. Does that apply to music when counting beats ...
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43 votes
10 answers
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Is there any practical difference between 3/4 and 3/8 time?

Is there any practical difference between 4/4 and 8/8? regards a common and unusual time signature; both 3/4 and 3/8 time are pretty common. What difference in performance is implied in the the ...
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14 votes
1 answer
28k views

How can I find the length in seconds of a quarter-note (crotchet) if I have a tempo marking?

Given a tempo marking in bpm (beats-per-minute), how can I work out the length of a crotchet (quarter-note) beat?
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35 votes
8 answers
163k views

How to tell the time signature of a song by listening?

Every song has some kind of time signature; even if different parts of the song have different time signatures, there is always a time signature. When learning a song by ear and no score, knowing the ...
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6 votes
4 answers
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Are whole notes/rests really used to signify variable lengths of time?

I saw this answer and I thought the guy was absolutely crazy for assuming that a whole note automatically equaled one measure regardless of time signature. However, there does appear to be more than ...
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60 votes
4 answers
15k views

(1/√π)/√⅔ as a time signature?

I recently found this article on wikipedia about lists of musical works in unusual time signatures and the first unusual time signature is (1/√π)/√⅔. I looked up the piece that was listed as having ...
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22 votes
4 answers
88k views

What is the connection between time-signature, beat, and tempo?

What is the connection between time-signature, beat, and tempo? Mainly time-signature and tempo. Tempo is beats-per-minute I know, but does the time-signature affect it? For example, in a 120bpm tempo,...
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42 votes
8 answers
127k views

Is there a difference between 2/4 and 4/4

I cannot figure out the actual difference between these two beats. Isn't it sufficient to have only 2/4 (or 4/4 )?
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22 votes
8 answers
6k views

I don't understand the bottom number in a time signature

I've learned that 4/4 means 4 beats with the kind of beat being a crotchet. However, I've seen pieces with that time signature that don't just use crotchets, but minims, quavers, etc. I am still a ...
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-4 votes
5 answers
7k views

Why are time signatures needed?

I always have had trouble understanding the time signature in music. I have read about this, of course, but I don't understand it completely. Days ago, I think I got something that I want to confirm ...
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17 votes
3 answers
17k views

How do you know what beat to emphasize based on the time signature?

In learning the guitar I have run across various time signatures. In each time signature it seems as if you are supposed to emphasize different beats. Is this something that you just have to intuit, ...
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19 votes
5 answers
4k views

Is 41/16 a proper time signature?

I know nothing about music theory so please forgive my terminology. I made a pattern that I've counted off as having 41 16th notes. I'm counting 1-e-and-a-2-e-and-a...etc and the pattern ends on ......
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7 votes
5 answers
3k views

Notes not adding up to time signature?

First staff in 'Patterns for Jazz' (1970) by Jerry Coker+, doesn't seem to add up to the time signature. How would you interpret this? I'm just starting to learn notation, so not sure if this is ...
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1 vote
3 answers
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What is the difference between 3/2 and 3/4 time signature [duplicate]

I am confused between these two time signatures. What is the difference really. I can listen to a hymn in 3/2 time and i can see how easily I can replace the halves with quarters and the quarters with ...
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0 votes
1 answer
2k views

What does a "3" over 32nd notes mean? [duplicate]

I have extracted the measure in question that I'm struggling to understand how the notes line up to the existing (4 4) time signature. As I understand, the bass has 16, 1/16th counts, but the ...
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0 votes
5 answers
9k views

Choice of 3/2 or 6/4 time signature [duplicate]

Newbie question! The time signature for this tune is 3/2 but could it just as correctly be marked as 6/4? What criteria would you use to decide between the two or is there no difference? http://...
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10 votes
3 answers
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Understanding Time Signature: How do I identify the time signature of a song?

I have played music for years and I still don't understand what a time signature actually signifies. I understand it from a superficial sense. If given sheet music I could tell you what time ...
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21 votes
8 answers
35k views

The practical difference between 2/2 and 2/4 time [duplicate]

In practice, what is the difference between 2/2 and 2/4? Doesn't the emphasis fall in the same place either way?
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  • 211
6 votes
2 answers
9k views

An effective method for counting and identifying time signatures. [duplicate]

When I listen to some odd time signature songs I have some serious trouble dissecting the time signatures at times. Songs with 6/8 or 3/4 are easy enough to identify, but some progressive rock/metal ...
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5 votes
5 answers
9k views

What can one do to understand time signatures?

I am struggling with the basics of Time Signatures. For one, I see it as more of a 'beat' signature. Notation is old, and time signatures are of an age where there was no clock, or way of keeping time ...
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12 votes
6 answers
1k views

How does the bottom number of the time signature affect counting?

I have learnt all the complicated mathematics subjects in my school, but that bottom number, I can't understand. Ok, the notation will be different, and it will say what kind of note gets the beat, ...
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12 votes
3 answers
11k views

What is the importance of tempo and time-signatures?

What is the importance of tempo and time-signatures? Aren't tempo and time-signatures all interchangeable? 4/8 at 60 BPM can be also described as 4/4 at 120 BPM. Can't a 60 BPM tempo be transcribed to ...
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7 votes
5 answers
3k views

If the time signature changes, does the key signature change as well?

Consider the following snippet from Where Is My Mind (arranged by Maxence Cyrin). Notice how after the first few bars there's a time signature change. Does the key signature also automatically change ...
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7 votes
3 answers
4k views

Tempo, time signature and note lengths [duplicate]

Is there any sound numerical correlation between tempo, time signature and note lengths(duration in time)? For example: With some certain time signature like 6/8 or 4/4 and with a 120 bpm tempo what ...
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  • 187
7 votes
3 answers
797 views

Irrational meter - why the mark of a triplet in 4 half notes

Can someone please explain to me why the mark of a triplet in this 4 half notes? I understood how to play it but from what i read you can only write triplets on 3 notes like 3 eighths 3 quarters etc......
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3 votes
3 answers
319 views

Meter and time signature headache

I'm having trouble understanding meter and time signatures. I want the complete logical rundown of what it means and how arrangement works, the arbitrary nature of it (some almost explain notation and ...
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2 votes
2 answers
700 views

Assessing the time signature of a single measure

Is it possible to tell the difference between a single measure written in 3/2 time vs 6/4 time, when looking solely at what is written, with no audio available? For example, consider a measure which ...
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-1 votes
3 answers
1k views

How do I determine the time signature of a song? [duplicate]

I'm having some trouble with my music homework. I'm trying to figure out what time signature some of the pieces would be in I was able to do two of the questions (though I'm not sure of the answer ...
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12 votes
1 answer
3k views

0/0 time signature?

In a piece my brother is playing there's a weird time signature - it looks like a zero over a zero: a 0/0 time signature. It seems that the bars have 5/4 in them (probably not 10/8, but could be as ...
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5 votes
3 answers
1k views

What do uncommon time signatures consist of?

Take a X/4, it means "the measure will contain X notes, the value of which are 1/4" I understand this concept for X/Y signatures, with Y being a power of 2. But what does that mean for the others ? ...
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4 votes
2 answers
5k views

What feel is 12/8 meter and why?

I know 6/8 is a two feel, so I feel like 12/8 would be a four feel of four triplet groups per bar. Is this correct?
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4 votes
4 answers
3k views

Free time in music

Free time is a musical meter with no time signature, many pieces like the Concord Sonata and the Gnossienne No. 1 has no time signatures. But still they have note duration. I don't understand, because ...
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4 votes
1 answer
7k views

The importance of cut time [duplicate]

I have wondered for a while what the purpose of Cut Time (2/2) actual is. While studying music theory I've always been told the reason is to reduce the use of eighth notes and sixteenth notes in a ...
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3 votes
6 answers
460 views

Understanding Rhythm with Time Signatures

Trying to follow the rules, yes I am trying to learn my instrument, watching YouTube videos, and trying to learn from looking at sheet music... It seems I "learn" about something it feels like it ...
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2 votes
2 answers
296 views

Changing Time Signature

I need to change a simple piece from 4/8 to 4/4. Do I only need to double the values for each note? (Ex. quarter to half note & eighth to quarter?)
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2 votes
1 answer
130 views

Notes value surpass the time signature of 4/4

I'm playing on an acoustic guitar. I've just started learning notes notation and I can't understand how this should be played, as the value of notes seems to be larger than the 4/4 rhythm. From what ...
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1 vote
1 answer
4k views

Is dotted quarter note = 144 equivalent to quarter note = 96?

I have a piece to read that gives the tempo of dotted quarter = 144. Does that mean it's at a quarter note = 96? The piece has a time signature of 12/8, and I'm guessing each eighth note is played at ...
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0 votes
2 answers
465 views

How should I understand time signature?

Now, I am not asking for the general answer given in band class ("The top number tells how many beats are in a measure; the bottom number tells what note gives the beat"). I'm more asking what it is ...
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7 votes
9 answers
46k views

In 3/2 time why is a whole-note rest used as a bar's rest when a whole-note doesn't fill the measure? [duplicate]

A bar's duration is measured in beats and can be represented using a whole note. So, a bar duration in beats is just a whole note. So isn't a 3/2 measure just spilling over? 3 half notes is equal to ...
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3 votes
5 answers
1k views

How to figure out the length (time in ms) of a bar from bpm and time signature? [duplicate]

I have seen a bunch of similar questions on the site, but I'm going to ask more directly. I know a songs: tempo - X bpm - (eg.:120). time signature - Y/Z - (eg.: 4/4). I'd like to know the formula ...
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17 votes
4 answers
4k views

How to notate time signature switching consistently every measure

It seems my musical journey's always pushing me into left field territory when it comes to notation ... So this time I'd like to know what would be a good way to notate a consistent switching of time ...
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8 votes
4 answers
11k views

When is it proper (if ever) to extend time signatures (8/4 vs 4/4)?

When listening to most contemporary music, in my experience, time signatures tend to be in "common time", or 4/4. But sometimes it feels like the phrase or measure extends beyond the four quarter ...
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  • 797
7 votes
1 answer
498 views

What is this "CC" (double common-time) time signature called?

From Brahms Fugue in A-flat minor, WoO 8: The file name is "Double Common Time" JPEG but only because that's the only thing I can figure out to call it. Bonus question: Can this time ...
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7 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why are time signatures not used in this score?

I was looking at this hand-written short score (to be completed by other arrangers): The only thing that strikes me about it (maybe there should be others) is there is no written time signature. Why? ...
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5 votes
6 answers
2k views

Do you need anything beside the BPM and number of beats per measure to specify a rhythm?

Again I do some calculations to put clarity in my question Say BPM = 120 so beat time is 0.5 seconds Now in 4/4 the quarter note duration is 0.5 seconds If you have 4/2 (for same BPM)the half note ...
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3 votes
1 answer
180 views

Use of fractional time signatures in Lilypond

I am trying to recreate this time signature of 2 and a half over 4 in lilypond. I cannot figure out how to get the fraction in there, and for this project, I am required to keep as many engraving ...
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15 votes
5 answers
13k views

How to calculate the tempo of a song in numbers and find the Italian terms?

I'm trying to understand how exactly we calculate tempos and how we assign their Italian names in written music. I've searched before asking, but I'm not 100% sure I've understood everything correctly,...
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  • 418
11 votes
7 answers
2k views

Are odd time signatures perceived as execution errors by layman people?

I recall being told once that odd time signatures like 5/8, 7/8, etc. are perceived by layman people as if the interpreter had an execution error (like he/she made a tempo mistake). Is it common ...
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  • 163
11 votes
4 answers
16k views

How do you know if a song has triplets in 4/4 or if the tempo is 3/4?

How do you know if a song has triplets in 4/4 or if the tempo is 3/4 ? For example, consider this song : For the first line , I can count 1,2,3 ,1,2,3 ,1,2,3 ,1,2,...
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